Below is the full text of the speech I made when I became a guest speaker at a writing event in SM City Clark, Angeles City, Philippines on August 27, 2011.
I once met a writer during an event in Manila. She was writing for four different magazines, in as many different topics.
I started a conversation with her, asking her how she started writing for those magazines. I was trying to get as much information as I can about the profession. During the course of our conversation, I told her, “You know, I am a frustrated writer.” What she replied to me was something that would be ringing in my consciousness for the years to come.
She said to me, “That’s nonsense! There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!”
Unfortunately, she was not able to elaborate on that, because she was called and our conversation was cut short.
To be honest, I can no longer remember the name or even the face of that writer. But I will never forget her words, “There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!”
That was in 2004.
I started writing poems in 1986. I was 18 years old. I wrote poems about how I felt, where I’ve been, what I saw, prayers, wishes, and everything else in between. I wrote poems year in and year out, putting them all in my notebook which I labeled REFLECTION.
When I met that writer in 2004, I was already on my third notebook. And after that conversation with her, I still continued writing poems.
One day, as I was holding my notebooks, reading all my poems that I wrote, I remembered the writer’s words… and I thought, “Here I am. I have written all these poems. I was able to capture my feelings. I was able to express myself. So, where’s the frustration in that?! There is no one or nothing that is stopping me to write. I can write whenever, wherever and whatever I want. And as long as I can express myself freely in writing, I cannot really call myself a frustrated writer.”
Indeed, the writer was correct! There is no such thing as a frustrated writer!
However, there was a catch. It was only I, and a few selected friends, who read my poems. I wanted to share my poetry. I wanted to have my poems published. Maybe that was the frustration I was referring to when I was talking to that writer.
But, is that really frustration? I don’t think so.
When you start wishing for your work to get published… when you start wanting to share your work to many people… that, my young friends, is where the dreaming begins.
That is why we are here… because you started to dream. All of you who wrote and submitted a story have already started their dream. And to some, that dream will come true tonight. Congratulations! You did a great job!
To those who weren’t as lucky, it doesn’t mean the end of a dream… it is just life’s way of telling you, “Hang on. You’ll have your moment just yet.”
Please remember, some dreams do take time. I was 18 when I started. I was 43 when my first book was published. And in those 25 years in between were a lot of stories of joys, rejections, sadness, hopes, triumphs and frustrations. But all throughout, the writing went on. I never stopped.
Even though there wasn’t any sign of my dream coming true, I just kept on writing… because, in my heart I knew, it will happen. So I kept on writing. That is why when the opportunity came, I was ready.
So I suggest, if you really love to write, do not wait for any contest. Write anytime you want. Write when you have an opportunity to write. Write whenever you feel that there is something inside you that wants to be written. Just write… because the act of writing sustains the dream.
And as I end my talk, allow me to share with you the last poem in my book REFLECTION… the poem “Dreams Do Come True.”
Dreams do come true
Maybe not when we want them
They come true when
They needed to be
Not how we want them to be
But even better
Isn’t it swell?
Dreams do come true
And I hope that mine
Will inspire you
So my dear students, please… keep writing… keep dreaming.
Thank you very much, and good evening.